BANGKOK — Newly-endorsed lower house speaker Chuan Leekpai announced that MPs will convene to select Thailand’s next prime minister on Wednesday.
The decision came after Chuan consulted with senate speaker Pornpetch Wichitcholchai on Friday. But despite the looming deadline, the seven parties openly committed to an anti-junta front have yet to settle on supporting a single PM candidate as of press time.
Earlier in May, Future Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit announced his bid for the top job and intentions to lead the formation of a governing coalition. However, he faces the Constitutional Court’s pending ruling on allegations from the Election Commission that he is in breach of election laws.
Media reports suggest that Pheu Thai Party leader Sudarat Keyuraphan is no longer pursuing the position of prime minister.
Chart Thai Pattana on Friday also became the latest party to declare allegiance to the pro-junta faction. The other two major parties, the Democrats and Bhumjaithai, have yet to announce whether they will support junta leader Gen. Prayuth Chano-cha’s bid to continue on as prime minister.
Meanwhile, the junta-appointed senate is facing public pressure not to vote as a bloc in favour of Prayuth. Under the constitution, the senate is empowered to intervene if the lower house fails to settle on a suitable prime minister.
Senate speaker Pornpetch has insisted that all 250 senators have the freedom to decide for themselves which PM candidate to vote for.
“It’s the prerogative of the [senate] members. How can I answer the question?” Pornpetch said when asked by reporters whether the 250 senators will vote for Prayuth.
Anusorn Unno, dean of sociology and anthropology at Thammasat University and a leader of a group of pro-democracy academics, posted on Facebook today urging both MPs and senators not to vote for Prayuth.
“[Prayuth] is a danger to parliamentary democracy because [he] and the junta’s proxy party want to extend his powers by distorting the democratic system and destroying the parliamentary system,” Anusorn said in the post.
“It’s your choice how you want to be remembered,” he said, adding that parliamentarians will have to choose between their interests and that of the nation come Wednesday.